What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Information Theory

The Big Idea for Tuesday, February 11, 2014

One of the paradoxes of information theory, as James Gleick points out in today's lesson, is this:

Information, such as a string of English text, has organization in it and the organization allows you to predict what the next bit in a given message is going to be.  

However, because you can predict it, it’s not as surprising.  And because it has less surprise, it carries less information. The idea of information as surprise is associated with disorder and randomness. As Gleick explains, this is a scary idea. As humans, we crave meaning. And so the idea that information might be meaningless is an extremely troubling one, given that we are living in the "age of information."


  1. 1 Information Wants to Have Meaning. Or Does It?
    Big Think Editors Big Think TV
  2. 2 Information is Surprise
    James Gleick In Their Own Words
  3. 3 Information Overload? There Has Always Been Too Much to Know
    Dominic Basulto Endless Innovation
  4. 4 Human Beings Are Information-Seeking Creatures
    James Gleick

Information Theory

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